Totnes Pound

Home of the Totnes Pound

Message from Totnes Pound Group 27/04/2014

Dear Totnes trader,

We are delighted to be able to let you know that the new paper Totnes Pounds (t£1, t£5, t£10 and t£21) will be officially launched in the Civic Hall on the evening of 20th May.

They have a number of security features, including security watermarked paper, holograms, engraved silver foil and serial numbers reversed out of gold foil. They also have QR codes printed on them, by which mobile phone and tablet users can connect immediately to the Traders Directory on the Totnes Pound website.

We have delayed the launch, which was originally planned for before Easter, in order to do the necessary preparation work to give the new Pounds as much momentum as possible. There will be a 5% launch discount on the first t£10,000-worth of notes that are sold through the Issuing Points: people will receive t£21 for every £20 sterling. We think that this will be a great way to get the notes into circulation speedily. When you redeem Totnes Pounds, you will receive £1 sterling for every Totnes Pound.

The new notes feature local heroes and heroines: Dorothy Elmhirst, Ben Howard, Charles Babbage and Mary Wesley. We are inviting relatives of theirs (and possibly Ben Howard himself) to attend the launch.

We will send round further emails in the run-up to the launch, but meanwhile if you have any questions please contact John Elford on 01803 867750 (email We all look forward to a successful launch of the new Totnes Pounds, which will help to attract customers to independent traders in Totnes and to maintain the town’s reputation as a pioneering community and seedbed of innovative social projects.

Totnes Pound Business Q&A

The Totnes Pound is planning to relaunch with a new set of professionally designed and printed notes. There will be denominations of t£1, 5, 10 and 21. The relaunch will include redesigned and improved marketing materials including point of sale, website, posters, window stickers and leaflets.
These plans have been developed following feedback from the participating businesses.

  1. What is the Totnes Pound and what’s it for?
    The Totnes Pound is a way of encouraging more money to be spent in local independent businesses in the town and in turn to keep more of the money in the town to circulating locally. It also aims to strengthen economic ties between the people and businesses of Totnes. The Totnes Pound is a complementary currency that can be used alone or alongside sterling. Whilst there are some rules for taking part in the scheme, local currency is not legal tender and so accepting Totnes Pounds is voluntary.
  2. How does my business accept Totnes Pounds in practice?
    For a business, accepting Totnes Pounds is just like accepting sterling. One Totnes Pound is equivalent to £1 in any transaction.   Some businesses find it easier to process / account for them as vouchers.
  3. Will my suppliers accept Totnes Pounds?
    Totnes Pounds can be spent with participating businesses in the Totnes area, if your suppliers are in the Totnes area they may well accept Totnes Pounds as payment. We would like to work with more businesses to find local suppliers where possible and encourage those suppliers to join the scheme.
  4. What can I do with Totnes Pounds if I can’t spend them all with suppliers?
    Encourage customers to take Totnes Pounds in their change and staff to exchange sterling for Totnes Pounds you have received: the greater the awareness of Totnes Pounds and the more people are encouraged to use them, the more successful it will be for your business.
    As a final option, all traders in the scheme are able to exchange their Totnes Pounds for sterling. A Totnes Pound representative will make regular visits to your business so that you can exchange surplus Totnes Pounds for sterling with minimal inconvenience.
  5. Can I exchange Totnes Pounds into sterling?
    Yes, Totnes Pounds can easily be exchanged for sterling at Transition Town Totnes’ office or with a Representative who will regularly visit your business. However we do ask businesses to make reasonable efforts to keep the money circulating with other businesses and members of the public.. Keeping Totnes  Pounds circulating is the best way to benefit all the members.
  6. Are there any charges for using the Totnes Pound?
    There is no joining fee, membership fee or ongoing charges for participating in the Totnes Pound Scheme so there is no cost to your business.
  7. How will it benefit my business?
    We will be encouraging people (including tourists coming into the town) to use Totnes Pounds and therefore increasing their spending at businesses that accept the Totnes Pound. Participating businesses will be effectively marketed through  updated print materials and through a searchable online directory.
    The new notes will be exciting and innovative, making them attractive to users. Ongoing marketing and PR will maintain high awareness and enthusiasm for the scheme, but the success of Totnes Pounds will also depend on the traders input too (for example why not have a special “pay in Totnes Pounds get 10% off” sale, or some other marketing activity based around the Pound?). In the current difficult climate for small businesses, the Totnes Pound aims to give a real boost to the local economy.
  8. How does taking Totnes Pounds affect my tax liability?
    For tax and accounting purposes all Totnes Pound transactions should be treated the same as if they were made in sterling. So participation will not affect how you declare your revenues, expenses and any taxable profits to HMRC. Likewise VAT should be charged based on the price of goods as normal. On completing VAT returns, payments to HMRC must be made in sterling.
  9. Who is running the Totnes Pound?
    The Totnes Pound is run by a team of volunteers for the benefit of local independent businesses and the local economy as a whole. We are in the process of formally constituting as a cooperative made up of the business members and volunteers.
  10. What are the risks?
    Having and using Totnes Pounds is effectively no riskier than using sterling. Each Totnes Pound is backed by a pound sterling (deposited in a bank account) and is redeemable for a pound sterling at the Transition Town Totnes offices.
  11. What will you do to prevent fraud?
    All of the denominated official Totnes Pounds will incorporate a raft of the latest security features that make printing fraudulent notes very difficult and expensive. The notes in circulation will also be monitored and regularly tested for authenticity.
  12. How do I leave the scheme if I no longer want to be involved?
    Participation in the Totnes Pound is entirely voluntary but we so ask that a business give two months notice of their intention to stop accepting Totnes Pounds in order to provide us with the opportunity to update online and printed marketing material.
  13. My business takes lots of cash, how would I conveniently and safely handle a large and regular volume of local notes (‘cashing up’)?
    Different businesses will have different needs so we are happy to discuss and agree with you a procedure that works for you.
  14. Does my business have to accept full payment in the currency?
    In becoming a member, a business is making a commitment to accept Totnes Pounds in payment for goods and services. We do not want to pressure a business to accept full payment in Totnes Pounds against their wishes, however we do ask that businesses honour the spirit of the commitment they have made in working with us to make the Totnes Pound a success. This is important in maintaining public trust in the scheme. Remember that if you receive more Totnes Pounds than you can spend they can easily be exchanged back into sterling.
  15. Will the notes be accepted at a bank?
    Totnes Pounds cannot be deposited in banks. The currency is designed solely as a means of exchange and will work best if the currency continues circulating.
  16. Is this being done anywhere else?
    There is a long history of places having their own currencies, and it was very common in this country until the centralisation of the banking industry in the 19th century. More recently, since Totnes led the way, Brixton, Lewes and Stroud have launched their own currencies, with Bristol due to launch theirs in September.
  17. Is it like a LETS scheme?
    LETS (Local Exchange Trading Scheme) is a different type of local exchange model which is not exchangeable for sterling. See

Totnes Pound – 5% discount scheme


The Totnes Pound scheme involves a certain proportion of “leakage” – notes that leave Totnes never to return. Our experience over the years shows that this number can be conservatively estimated at 15%. Our intention is to accelerate adoption of the Totnes Pound by Consumers and Traders by using this leakage to finance a 6-month discount scheme that:

  • benefits the Consumer
  • benefits the Trader by encouraging spending
  • has no negative financial impact the Trader

Here’s how it works

  1. Consumer goes into an Issuing Point and buys 10 Totnes Pounds for £9.50
  2. Consumer enters a Shop and spends his 10 Totnes Pounds, and receives goods worth £10 sterling
  3. If the Trader:
    1. redeems these 10 Totnes Pounds with the Totnes Pound Bank, he will receive a full £10 sterling in return
    2. gives them out as change, they’ll be at the full face value

These are the impacts

  • Negative impact on Trader financially – ZERO
  • Additional complexity re accounting for Trader – ZERO
  • Consumer benefits by getting more for his money – 5% Discount
  • This all works because the “leakage” finances the 5% discount.

Other details

  • Only Traders listed in the scheme will get this benefit of a “pound for a pound” redemption rate
  • We’ll keep a record of redemptions to ensure the scheme isn’t abused
  • Traders do NOT pay anything to be part of the scheme
  • Consumers can’t redeem Totnes Pounds at the “pound for pound" rate

Background information on the Totnes Pound as published some time ago and included here for information only.

The Totnes Pound was launched as an initiative of Transition Town Totnes Economics and Livelihoods group in March 2007.

Economic localisation is considered to be a key aspect of the transition process, and local currency systems provide the opportunity to strengthen the local economy whilst preventing money from leaking out.

The benefits of the Totnes Pound are:

  • To build resilience in the local economy by keeping money circulating in the community and building new relationships
  • To get people thinking and talking about how they spend their money
  • To encourage more local trade and thus reduce food and trade miles
  • To encourage tourists to use local businesses

We hope that at a later stage additional benefits could include supporting the start up of new social, ethical and environmental businesses.

Support the Totnes Pound

Anyone who live locally to Totnes can support the Totnes Pound by making a commitment use them. Using Totnes pounds is a visible ways of showing that you support the local economy and local businesses. Making a commitment to using the pound means trying to make sure that you always have some on you, for example T10 or T20. Then, after you have spent some, make sure that you get hold of some more, either in change from somewhere else, or from an issuing point. As more businesses begin to offer incentives for using Totnes Pounds it makes economic sense to make sure you have got some on you. The project is run by a group of volunteers who meet monthly to plan the development of the project and few other people who help with specific tasks. Anyone who is interested in supporting the project is welcome to get involved. If you have any questions about this project, or you want to get involved please contact us at

This project team normally meets on the first Monday of the month. Email us for details or check the calendar.

How the Totnes Pound works

Totnes Pounds enter circulation when people choose to exchange their sterling currency into Totnes pounds at one of four places around Totnes. At present (NOTE UPCOMING CHANGES) the exchange rate is 1TP for £1.

Totnes Pounds can then be spent at participating businesses, of which there are currently around 70. Some of these are now offering discounts for certain purchases that are made in Totnes Pound to encourage usage.

People can exchange their Sterling into Totnes Pounds at a number of issuing points around Totnes. People can also accept Totnes Pounds in change from participating shops. This does not create new pounds, but does help them to circulate and enables shoppers to show their loyalty to the local economy.

Every Totnes Pound in circulation is therefore 'backed' by one pound of Sterling. This money is put into a bank account.

Totnes Pounds then circulate between consumers and businesses. Some businesses spend the Totnes Pounds that they receive with other local businesses. This strengthens the local economic multiplier, which means basically that money stays within the community rather than leaking out. If a business has an excess of Totnes Pounds they are able to exchange the surplus back for Sterling.

At the moment the project is managed by an unincorporated community association. However, the project team have been working with Co-ops UK to set up an Industrial and Provident society which will be the long term vehicle for managing the currency. This will ensure that the project is owned by the local community and run for its benefit.

Businesses that accumulate an excess of Totnes Pounds are able to exchange them back for sterling. However, we encourage them to think about how they can spend them themselves, to strengthen the 'local multiplier' and build new relationships.

In the longer term we plan to diversify the asset which backs the currency. In future it might be possible to back it with land, energy or labour. At this point the currency will be able to play an even more significant role in building economic resilience.

Issuing Points


Cider Press Gift Shop
Cider Press, Dartington
Open: Monday - Saturday

74 High Street, Totnes
Open: Monday - Saturday

Harlequin Bookshop
High Street
Open: Monday - Saturday

Totnes Museum
Fore Street, Totnes
Open: Monday – Friday, 10:30 – 5 pm (March to October)

Greenlife, Civic Square, Totnes

Open: Monday – Saturday, 9 – 5:30

Transition Town Totnes office
43 Fore Street, Totnes

Totnes Pound team

The Totnes Pound has a core group of four volunteers who run the project. They are Noel Longhurst, Nigel Topping, Robert Jackson and Ben Brangwyn. There are a few other volunteers who also help with different tasks. More help is always welcome and the group are currently trying to secure funding for a project worker to give us more capacity and enable the project to be developed quicker.

The core group meets once a month, usually at 9am on the first Monday of the month. Anyone is welcome to join the group but it is a 'doing' group and members are expected to undertake tasks to help the project move forward.

The Totnes Pound is currently constituted as an unincorporated community organisation. However we are currently in the process of incorporating an Industrial and Provident Society to be the long term vehicle for the currency. This will ensure that it is owned by the local community and remains focused on supporting the local economy.

We aim to have at least one open meeting per quarter which gives people the opportunity to come and discuss their experience and ideas for the pound.

If you wish to contact the project you can email or call 07807 699532. (PLEASE NOTE NUMBERS AND EMAIL ADDRESSES WILL CHANGE)

Media Coverage of the Totnes Pound

Firstly, it encourages debate about the role that complementary currencies can play in local economic development. Other countries (such as the USA, Argentina, Japan and Germany) have a much richer history of experimenting with different types of money. The growth of LETS systems in the 1990s increased awareness of complementary currencies in the UK but there is still much less experimentation than in other countries. We hope the Totnes Pound will help to stimulate debate on this issue, particularly in the light of the 'credit crunch' which has been caused by the global monetary system.

Secondly, the media coverage has drawn attention to Peak Oil, Climate Change and the Transition Movement. It has been an excellent way of raising awareness of these issues and what we can do to try and address them. It has also generated a lot of media coverage for Totnes itself. This, we argue, is a indirect benefit to the local businesses and is important whilst the direct economic benefits of the Totnes Pound are currently small scale.

Finally, the project acts as an inspiration for other places to try and find ways of strengthening their own economies. Lewes are launching their Pound and in Lampeter they are hoping to reintroduce the Black Ox, a currency that used to exist in that area of Wales.

Whenever approached by the media we always explain that this is a serious, long-term project which is currently a small -scale experiment. Of course we have no control over how they end up presenting the Totnes Pound but we hope that most of the coverage helps to deliver the benefits described above